Dealing with Patients and Co-Workers

Not only do travel therapists have to deal with the challenges of moving from assignment to assignment, city to city, they also have to deal with a revolving door of new patients and co-workers. While physical or occupational therapists working as permanent employees in a facility have the luxury of getting used to a particular work environment and therefore they’re able to adjust to difficult behavior at a more leisurely pace, travel therapy professionals aren’t so lucky. Travel therapists need to hit the ground running all the time and deal with difficult behavior as they arise. And this can take a lot from a person emotionally.

If dealing with difficult patients and co-workers can easily drain you, here is some food for thought:

Remember that you aren’t responsible for changing how people behave nor should you try. It’s understandable that many travel therapists feel the need to change negativity to improve the way people behave but some folks just can’t be changed. Some people just love being miserable. To try is futile and will only lead to frustration. Don’t change them. Instead, change how you feel about their terrible behavior.

In other words, don’t take it personally. How people act or react reflect where their minds are at. Your patients could be hurting or depressed while your co-workers could be tired or have personal issues. There are so many factors that affect the way they interact with you that have nothing to with you at all.

Instead of frowning, try to be more sympathetic. It’s important for travel therapists to understand and acknowledge where people are coming from. If a person is stuck in a state of anger and frustration, it’s up to the travel therapist to acknowledge those feelings with compassion. Doing so can certainly help disarm an otherwise awkward or volatile situation.

That said, you have to set boundaries and hold your ground. Let patients and co-workers alike know where the line is drawn with you. If profanity offends you, say so. Let them know that you will not stand for disrespect. This is important not to give in because difficult people might see this as an invitation for further aggravation.

Finally, keep learning. If a strategy doesn’t work, try another. Research for answers online or in books.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, you’re bound to encounter difficult behavior. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky and your new assignment will be full of shiny happy people. But chances are you will have to work with one or two bad apples. However, just because you have to work with difficult people doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the experience. Whatever you do, don’t give up.